On Monday, the Chinese site NetEase reported that a smaller Apple tablet will launch in Q3 2012 to “counter attack” the upcoming Windows 8 tablets. The device will cost between $250 and $300, with Foxconn and Pegatron will be manufacturing the tablet for Apple.
However, it's unclear if NetEase was just rehashing earlier rumors. Those March rumors of the iPad mini, from DigiTimes, said virtually the same thing.
In late March, Macotakara reported that Apple was working on a 5-inch, not even 7-inch, iPad mini, targeting 2013 for launch. According to the site, that 5-inch iPad mini would sport a resolution of either 1,600 by 960 pixels or 1,280 by 960 pixels.
The first rumors of a 7-inch iPad were in place before the device was even release. In a 2009 report, iLounge said that it had been told that Apple had created several versions of the then-rumored iPad, including a 7-inch model that was killed as being too small.
Considering Steve Jobs' statement about 7-inch tablets, focusing on the first generation Samsung Galaxy Tab, it's not surprising that version was killed, assuming that source was correct. Still, since the release of the original iPad, rumors of a 7-inch model have persisted.
The popularity of the 7-inch Kindle Fire has given more validity to these sorts of rumors. Amazon.com has reportedly sold millions, and Apple may be looking to not just combat upcoming Windows 8 tablets, but also lower cost Android tablets like the Kindle Fire, too.